Nearly half of French support Roma expulsions: poll

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Some 48 percent of French support the government's campaign to dismantle unauthorised camps and expel Roma migrants, according to a poll to be released Thursday.

Forty-two percent questioned by the CSA agency opposed the crackdown on Roma, while 10 percent had no opinion, according to the poll whose results appear in Thursday's issue of Le Parisien/Aujourd'hui en France.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, citing concerns about crime, has ordered police to step up deportations of Roma from eastern Europe and to dismantle unauthorised Gypsy camps.

Since July 28, the French authorities have returned 681 people back to Romania and Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007, in a crackdown that has drawn fire from the left and right as well as the Vatican.

The poll found that support for the expulsions rises to 70 percent on the right, including 83 percent among supporters of the far-right National Front who were key in helping Sarkozy win the presidency in 2007.

Around 15,000 Roma, mostly from Romania and Bulgaria, are estimated to live in France.

While Romanian and Bulgarian nationals benefit from free circulation in the EU, the French labour market is not fully open to them and if they do not have a job and lodging after three months they are required to leave the country.

CSA interviewed a statistically representative sample of 1,000 people by telephone on August 24 and 25.

© 2010 AFP

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